Jefferson doubts over track for Waiting Patiently delay Ryanair decision
Members of the Waiting Patiently fan club will have to wait patiently for a decision about the Cheltenham Festival with trainer Ruth Jefferson harbouring doubts over whether this is the right year to tackle the meeting with the unbeaten chaser – or if he would be suited to the track at all.
Waiting Patiently made his Grade 1 breakthrough on Saturday when beating Cue Card and co in the Ascot Chase, extending his winning run over fences to six and being made 3-1 joint-favourite for the Ryanair Chase with Un De Sceaux by bet365 and William Hill.
However, punters were immediately advised to hold their bets on a festival challenge, with Jefferson saying: "Everyone else is obsessed by Cheltenham. We are not that fussed."
On Sunday she stressed that she was not anti-Cheltenham Festival, where she could have three other runners, just concerned about its suitability for her stable star.
"We'll not say we're definitely going and we'll not say we'll definitely not," she said. "We'll probably talk about it in the next week or two and then see.
"Cheltenham is a unique track, it's quite sharp, quite undulating and they go very quick. He's quite a young horse. He just made the odd mistake here and there and whether the test of Cheltenham will suit him now is up for debate, or whether it will ever suit him.
"That's the doubt we have. He's done most of his winning on a flat or more galloping track.
"It's a lovely meeting for some horses. Although the race looks ideal on paper, even if the ground comes right, the course might not suit him.
"People seem to think if you don't win at Cheltenham you're not as good. There are plenty of other races through the year where he can go and prove his ability."
Jefferson is set to have at least one runner in the Ryanair, in the shape of Cloudy Dream, who could be joined at Cheltenham by Mount Mews (Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase or Coral Cup) and possibly Cyrus Darius (Coral Cup).
"Sometimes it's easy to get carried away," she said. "Sometimes you have to take a step back and ask yourself, 'Is this the right thing for this horse?'
"We always enjoy Aintree as much as Cheltenham so if there was a bit of cut in the ground at Aintree we wouldn't be afraid to go there.
"We'd hate to go to Cheltenham and give him a hard time or injure him when we're not sure it suits him and then not have a horse, or run him on good ground just because there's a race there.
"If we look after him I'm sure he'll look after us, like on days like yesterday."
Jefferson added: "He's a winter-ground horse, maybe not a spring horse. We'll have to pick and choose the races we think might suit him through the season bearing in mind he wants a bit of cut in the ground."
Members’ Club Ultimate subscribers can read our festival stable visit with Gordon Elliott exclusively online the night before publication in the paper. Not a member? Enjoy your first month free when you subscribe using promo code FREETRIAL. Find out more here